Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Someone Else - Stories Behind the Clothing

Inside Horween from Someone Else  (zebra shoes second from the left)
“I remember when they ran the zebras here. I was a kid. Zebra was one of the alternatives that they looked at when the horsehide availability started to become more difficult. They sent over a couple shells and I think that was all they got out of them, enough for one pair of shoes. Now I'm happier to stay away from stuff like that. They tell you that (the hides are) legitimately taken, but it's hard to check, and we want to do things in a responsible way. I can give you origin (of all current Horween leather) back to the packing house.” 
- Skip Horween

At the antique market with Yuki Matsuda
I don't recall exactly how I came across Someone Else. I do, however, distinctly remember the feeling I had the moment I realized how good it was. There's no shortage of sites and Instagram accounts filled with good looking people focused on how to quickly "get the look" these days. Everything is hyped with marketing buzzwords, and it often encourages a mindset of trying to achieve a certain aesthetic, more or less, with the least amount of contemplation necessary to do so. There aren't nearly as many sites that care to delve beyond the superficial.

Self-described as looking at what lies "under the surface of style," Someone Else at its simplest tells the stories of the people behind some of the best brands in menswear - Yuketen/Monitaly, Ebbetts Field Flannels, Horween, and so on. Everything is well-considered. The site is cleanly designed and devoid of any extra frills, the pictures are stellar, and the interviews are even better. I especially enjoyed "Hype-Free Heritage: Inside the Horween Leather Archives," but I'd highly encourage reading through their entire archives if you have the time.

And you do. You're here right now.

In a letter from the editor, they recently announced an upcoming weekly series exploring New England towns and the brands representing them as a counterpoint to a puff piece GQ put out in 2014 titled, "The New New England Thing: 7 Preppy Looks for Spring." Now who can't get behind that?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mr. Porter - More Lines Just Added

Mr. Porter dumped a fresh batch of stock into their Spring/Summer sale just after midnight - a lot of outerwear and leather jackets from brands like Belstaff, Blackmeans, Sandro, Rick Owens, and RRL are new rather than just restocked returns, and in the span of a minute the number of pages in my size went from just a couple to nine. There are also a couple new bags in the accessories department (though generally underwhelming) and some great stock in the footwear section as well (like these Common Projects shown below - not sure I've ever seen a white colorway at this price). New stock mostly seems to be discounted at 70% off, as well.  

If you're up early in the morning and reading this, maybe skip breakfast or brushing your teeth for a few minutes so you can look through that's available things tend to get run through in a few hours once word gets out.

Just chew a piece of gum or something.

As for what happens next, it's really anyone's guess. Prior sales have hit 80% off at some point, though this year things seem to be off cycle. As always, shipping and returns are free.


Mr. Porter Sale


Monday, June 19, 2017

Worth the Read - What you know about "Genuine Leather" is probably wrong




This specific issue has been on my mind for a few years now, but I was reminded of it again when I read over a great article recently posted by North Star Leather. It's definitely worth reading, and deserves more visibility for being a rare voice of reason in a sea of copy-paste parroting.


North Star Leather - "Genuine Leather" has become a 4-letter word


From my own experience, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where it all started, but it seems to be right around the time Saddleback was becoming a household name and put out an "educational" piece called "Leather 101." I'm embarrassed to admit I remember reading it as a younger man many years ago, wide-eyed, marveling at how I had unlocked the simple secrets to quality leather, and proudly reciting my newly learned mastery to anyone that would listen (God bless my wife). Over time, journalists and influential websites started disseminating the same information, and it eventually became accepted as well-understood fact. Search it on the internet today and you'll find pages and pages of articles with easy keys to understanding quality tanned leather (often ignoring vegetable tanning entirely), grades of leather, and how the term "genuine leather" is a quick and easy buzzword letting you know that a product is made from the worst leather possible.

Head onto some widely-circulated sites like Reddit's Male Fashion Advice or TIL (Today I Learned), and you'll still commonly see those same points regurgitated down from one person to another like Moses coming down the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Thousands and thousands of people read that Reddit post and up-voted it, for example, and you'll find a ton of comments along the lines of "solid info" and "it's been a long while since a TIL actually told me something I didn't already know. Good work."


Charlton Heston famously telling someone that genuine leather is horrible


The problem is, it's simply not true. And at the very least, it isn't simple. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mr. Porter Spring/Summer Sale Hits 70% Off


The Mr. Porter sale has hit the next tier of discounts, now up to 70% off one of the best menswear inventories around. This is the second of three expected tiers, with the last being up to 80% off. Hard to predict when that will be, but the second and third tier drops are even more hectic than the first. If you are thinking about picking something up, I'd recommend that you just do it and ponder it later. Mr. Porter sales ship free with free returns, so there's really no risk here. This is one of the main reasons that the sale is so good, and things will be moving very quickly.

I've mentioned the excellent Kingsman line before, but just wanted to throw out that these are probably the lowest prices I've seen on By Walid items. If you don't know the brand or tend to dress within the dotted lines, so to speak, the pieces may seem a bit outlandish (and still expensive), but it's rare you'll ever see this level of texture orgy done with a high level of sophistication. For excellent fits on those, check out some of these IG fits from Eric, who was previously featured in Styleforum's member focus.

Link to Sale

Kingsman x Mackintosh Field Jacket - Still Available

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Value Boot Proposition - Indonesian MTO

Junkard SC 2089 Boot in  Brandy Shell Cordovan

Allen Edmonds Eagle County
It was only a few years ago that Allen Edmonds was giving Styleforum members free MTO options on all of their models, including clearance items. If reading that didn't rustle your jimmies, allow me to explain: you would pick out a clearance item, change whatever you wanted aside from the basic skeleton until it often resembled very little of its original incarnation, have it made as a one-off, and then pay the clearance price with your MTO fees waived. How do those jimmies feel now? 

I used the service just once in 2013 on a pair of unfortunate-looking boots called the Eagle County, but it was incredible. A customer service angel named Allison handled all of AE's communication for MTOs, and she went as far as to send me a sample pair of shoes in the same last, shipped free both ways just so I could try them on for size before I ordered. I changed a lot of it, naturally - went for walnut calf from what looked to me to be a pretty unattractive original choice, brass eyelets and 3 speed hooks vs 2 hooks + regular top eyelet, upgraded to a full independence lambskin lining and insole, black split reverse welt, brown transparent edge dressing, and switched out the chunky Harrier sole for a Toby mini lug outsole. All for free. Final price? $197 shipped.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Packing For the Long Haul - Traveling With Barbour


I was asked a little while ago to share how I pack for a long journey - in this case a two week trip to Japan. I had in mind a similar type of post about the jacket I brought with me, but this actually fits right in with that idea, in a broader sense.

My entire packing philosophy, if there is such a silly sounding thing, centers around one basic idea: maximizing versatility - the point being to save space by being able to wear each article interchangeably in as many situations as possible. Most guys out there own a fair number of shirts and pants, but most wardrobes are least built up in the footwear or outerwear department and you can't bring more than a couple on a trip, so that's usually where I anchor my wardrobe and build around it.


 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

You Already Know What It Is - Mr. Porter Summer Sale Starts


The Mr. Porter summer sale just dropped as everyone is still stuck in the refractory period following Memorial Day purchases. If you didn't know, Mr. Porter sales are generally unrivaled in regard to value for the level of inventory available. It's not really a time to be buying J. Crew chinos. It's a time to be buying things you absolutely love for years.

Link to the Sale


In terms of strategy, the first tier of the step-wise discounts - up to 50% off - is best for buying things that don't normally go on sale. Think classic staple items or big purchases (like my Hand Oiled Schott Perfecto from a few years ago). Something like this Private White VC Twin Track Jacket that Ian Anderson/From Squalor To Baller did a review on a few months ago - a really nice price for what's essentially a next-level Barbour, and what I'd be looking at myself to pick up if I was in the market. I doubt all sizes are still going to be available come morning.




Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Guide to Proxying Japanese Clothes

Kapital Moleskin Ring Coat auction at Yahoo! Japan (current bid ~ $107 USD - most close around $150-200 USD)

Cultivating an interest in Japanese clothing can be a tough gig here in the US. Your options are often limited to a small number of third party retailers offering an even smaller selection of stock, and on top of that prices generally include the cost of import/taxes/duties + retail markup - all of which can add up quickly to a sum guaranteed to keep that frown upside up.

The problem would be solved, in large part, if you could just order what you wanted from Japanese sites and have them ship your purchases straight to your door. Unfortunately, the majority of Japanese retailers don't ship outside the country, and when trying to communicate with the other side of the world, things can easily get a little...


...lost.

Enter proxy services - companies who will act on your behalf, buy and receive your items in Japan, and then ship them out of the country straight into your loving arms. In return, proxies normally charge a small fee for their services, but on the whole this method of buying can save you a lot of money and give you access to things you wouldn't otherwise be able to purchase.

In this post, we'll be going over the reasons you may or may not want to consider proxying, how the process works (in this case using From Japan's proxy service), and the places and searches I've been using over the past few months.

Why Proxy?


Cost - Saving money is the most obvious upside to using a proxy. The more expensive the piece, the more savings in general, especially once you take into account international shipping.

Kapital Japan Web Shop - approx $192 USD

Here's a real world example: Unionmade, one of the best menswear stores in the states, carries this Kapital denim jacket for $405. On Kapital's e-store, however, the same jacket retails for approximately $192 USD (tax has not been factored in on either price). When you add in proxy fees and shipping prices to that, a rough estimate would probably put you around $230-260 USD, depending on how specific proxy fees are calculated and what shipping options are selected. That's still ~$150 less than you'd pay in the US - no small amount of money for most guys, including myself. And that's at retail pricing. Used Japanese clothes tend to be in very good condition (and are often graded for condition), and you can get some very good prices for like new or new condition clothes on the secondhand market.

Unionmade Site - $405 USD






Thursday, May 18, 2017

Archive Sale at No Man Walks Alone - 3 Days Only



With the amount of sales that occur during the year, it can be hard sometimes to get a sense for what a good sale is and what could probably be passed over. My favorite online store, No Man Walks Alone, just launched their private archive sale for just the next three days. As a reference, for the quality and range of inventory on sale, you should know that prices are not just low, they are stupid bananas.

It goes without saying that purchases are final sale - so I guess it does go with saying. But if you're not sure about sizing and are as averse to risk as I am, Kyle at NMWA has been really helpful to me in the past with measurements and size recommendations. Things are moving fast, so I'd suggest you do the same if you have your eye on something. I would also highly recommend looking through the entire selection, but some specific pics below.

Link to Sale


Some Picks:


ts(s) Duffle Coat (size 4) - $168: 


Easily one of the highlights of the sale. I have a slight aversion to most duffle coats, but ts(s) hit the nail right on the head with their more interesting and sophisticated take. Sometimes I'm glad when things aren't in my size, because if it was I'd definitely have to buy this and then explain to my wife why I need another jacket. "BECAUSE LOOK AT IT" has never achieved the desired effect, from my experience.

Monitaly Shawl Belted Field Coat (size 44) - $159: 


I bought this a few years ago for about $350 and it was worth every penny. $159 is just stupid. My awkward fit pics here (you can also find some of Greg (from NMWA) on the Styleforum affiliate thread. The geometric stripe wool patch pocket jacket also on sale piques my interest as well, though that would never make anyone's capsule wardrobe list.

*update - field coat just sold out*

Buttero Side Zip Boots - $192: 


If you read Put This On and Die, Workwear, you might remember a few articles about wearing side zips (in fact, one was just posted the other day with some options, including Buttero). These Butteros on sale are fantastic and should fit the bill easily. If you're unsure about the sizing, shoot NMWA customer service an email and they should be able to help you out.


 

Buttero Tanino Suede Sneakers (multiple colors, taupe linked) - $126-130: 


I love my own Buttero Taninos, which have only been getting better with time. These prices are as low as I've seen. For me, the regular suede version looks great in taupe, but there are some perforated models available as well for slightly lower prices.

Camoshita Suit (size 54) - $393: 


Versatile it is not, but a great example of what makes Camoshita so desirable and unique in the marketplace today. It's not quite the price I've read about recently on a once-in-a-lifetime $75 secondhand Camoshita pickup at Street x Sprezza, $393 for a new Camoshita suit is still unheard of.

EoToTo Collarless Trucker Jacket - $105: 


I've actually been keeping my eye on this jacket and have gotten close to purchasing it a few times, but I've never been sure I could pull it off personally. A statement piece for sure, NMWA featured it during a tongue in cheek stylist contest for some reference fit pics a while back. For only $105 now, it's mighty tempting if you're looking for something to inject some life into your wardrobe.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pardon the Cyberdust

Apologies for any disruptions on the site you might have noticed recently. I've been tinkering with some formatting and layout changes. Despite my Asian heritage and general computer literacy, web design and coding are still pretty foreign to me. And I cheated my way through my college Java class. 

Allegedly.

You may continue to see some changes going forward, but I figured the best thing to do was to keep the site up rather than take it down while I figure it out, considering it can take me days to decide on buying a pair of socks.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Weeks in Japan: A Style Journal (Week Two)

Cruising in Shimokitazawa



This is part II of II of an informal style journal I kept during our trip to Japan last November (apologies for any formatting issues - Blogger is a P.O.S.). First week can be found here.

 Day 8 - Tokyo (Shinjuku): Isetan Overload

Isetan Men (photo from Match-jp.com)  


  • The Isetan Men's Store in Shinjuku houses the densest, most overwhelming collection of high end menswear I've ever experienced (check out the store brand list here to give you an idea). For some perspective, the mens store has it's own eight floor building apart from the main store. You could just strip yourself naked in there and let the sartorial waves crash over you. The only other thing that would make the moment more magical is if they had Willy Wonka skipping around the isles singing "Pure Imagination." Gene Wilder Wonka. Not Depp.
  • Golden Gai, a small area in Shinjuku filled with bars and small restaurants, is a really cool place to grab a bite and hang out, though most of the bars don't seem to open til later in the evening. A typical spot there has seating for maybe 8-10 people crammed around a small bar. Then you sit, drink, and smell each other. While we were checking out the area, there was a fashion shoot going on in one of the alleys. In the alley behind my Philly apartment, it's mostly a public bathroom/place one goes to throw up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Better Sweats - Todd Snyder x Champion Collab on Sale at Century 21


I don't really wear sweats. I do coucher-cise in my living room, but cooler months usually find me in shawl collar cardigans more than anything else, which are more easily slipped on/off and tend to look better than the majority of sweats out there. That being said, if I did wear activewear I'd highly consider pickup some up from Todd Snyder, former J. Crew head of menswear design turned eponymous label, who partnered up with Champion a few years ago to create a rugged activewear capsule collection that's become quite popular. In the line, you'll generally find more premium materials, vintage detailing, and a higher level of construction.


Classic Garment-Dyed Sweatshirt (item info)
A number of items just got added to Century 21's site, with their standard garment dyed sweatshirt on sale for $34.99 (what I'd buy myself, currently on sale on the Todd Snyder website for $79 marked down from $98), short sleeved and french terry sweats at $29.99, and a smattering of other pieces for prices lower than I've seen before (you can skip the YOLO-type graphic tees, though). For reference, prior posted sales on deals forums have hit mid $40s range in months and years prior, but that's been a bit hard to come by.

If you've been looking at picking up some higher quality activewear but are not on board with whatever the hell is going on with the likes of J. Crew x New Balance (AKA the worst thing ever), the price of entry has been lowered temporarily. I have to say, even with my own aversion to the genre I've been close to buying more than a few times since they got dropped yesterday.

Link to the Sale (including mainline Todd Snyder items)

Second Link (for items erroneously labeled "Champion" only)